Romancing Jesus

“Jesus loves me, this I know…”

But do I really?

In my most recent post, I urged you to pick up a copy of Skye Jethani’s latest book, Futureville: Discover Your Purpose for Today by Reimagining Tomorrow. This book is worth reading for many reasons, but there’s one major point I didn’t mention in my review.

In a small, seeming innocuous chapter near the end of the book, Jethani asks, “What is your treasure?” Of course, just as in Sunday school, the answer is supposed to be “Jesus!” But is He truly my treasure?

I admit, when I read this question, I had to honestly answer, “Jesus, sometimes.” And that made me sad. Yes, Jesus is my treasure—sometimes. Sometimes I’m so in love with Him that I truly would do anything He asked of me. I would trade everything and everyone for the “pearl of great price.”

And sometimes I wouldn’t. I’m more concerned with my desires, my comfort, my safety. God, you want me to go talk to that person? Now? How embarrassing! God, you want me to give up my last remaining shred of free time to volunteer for that project? But I’m so tired! God, you want me to stop donating time to that cause? But I care so much about it! I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to go there. Or the clincher—I’d rather read this exciting novel than take time to be with you in prayer. Yeah, I do that. Ouch.

Keep this thought in mind for a moment while I digress.

I don’t read romance novels. I don’t like them. The secular ones are often thinly veiled porn, while the Christian ones are sappy and shallow. The writing usually stinks. And I don’t want to read about some idealistic hunk who always anticipates his love’s every whim, rescues her from the bad guys, passionately overwhelms her defenses, and carries her off to live perfectly ever after. Pete, as awesome as he is, could never measure up.

However…

This week I read a romance novel. It was actually a trilogy, so I technically read three of them, but it was one story broken into thirds–probably so you have to pay three times as much for it. In my case, I downloaded them from the library, so all I spent was some time.

Why did I read these books? Long story. Let’s just say I was very tired and they caught my eye. They were shelved under “science fiction and fantasy” (the perfect guy happens to be a faery) or I never would have stumbled across them. And I should point out that they were definitely not aimed at a Christian audience. Thankfully, the characters were interrupted whenever things got too hot and heavy—in the first two books at least—and the author didn’t go into detail in the third book.

I was partway through the second book, hooked but frustrated by the hero’s inhuman perfection, when it suddenly hit me. The author, clearly not a believer, was describing Jesus—His beauty and patience. His consistent faithfulness. His willingness to overlook our shortcomings and see only the best in us. His incredible sacrifice of Himself on our behalf. His eternal love.

I’m amazed that the author doesn’t realize who she was writing about. (Sadly, other parts of the book made it clear that she did not.)

There are many ways to view Jesus. He’s our elder brother, our best and faithful friend. He’s God almighty, and the first fruits of creation. I get all that. But only rarely do I think of Him as the romantic lover of my soul.

I know we aren’t supposed to depend on emotions. They’re fickle and often uncontrolled, not something we can build our faith upon. But emotions are part of being human (especially if you’re female!). They can help us understand God’s love in ways that our logical minds can never do.

I’m glad I read these books, cheesy as they were, because they brought me closer to Jesus. I have a new understanding of how much He loves me. And, as John wrote, we love because He first loved us. Right now at least, I can honestly answer that Jesus is my treasure.

I’m not recommending you go out and pick up a bunch of romance novels. Rather, I suggest you read The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God, by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge. This book has been around for a while, but it’s still on my list of the Top Ten Christian Books I’ve ever read.

And by the way, if you could recommend an exciting sci-fi or adventure novel, I’d be grateful.

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